Grameenphone's alleged financial discrepancies have ballooned almost three times to Tk 11,530.15 crore after the telecom regulator ran another audit of the operator's books.
In the first audit that was conducted in 2011, financial discrepancies amounting to Tk 3,034 crore were detected in the operator's books from its inception in 1996 through to March 2011.
Grameenphone then disputed the appointment process of the auditing firm.
So in October 2015, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission appointed Toha Khan Zaman & Co to pore over the country's leading operator's books from its inception until June 2015.
Toha Khan Zaman & Co found a discrepancy of Tk 7,444.21 crore in Grameenphone's payments to the BTRC.
The chartered accountants found another discrepancy of Tk 4,085.94 crore pertaining to value-added tax and other levies of the National Board of Revenue, according to the documents available.
Grameenphone has also disputed the findings of the latest audit report, which was handed in on February 22 after several bouts of delays.
“We have had several meetings with the top executives of the operator and after their reservation we have decided to go for another round of verification and consultation, which is part of the auditing procedure,” said Md Jahurul Haque, acting chairman of the telecom regulator.
Contacted, Grameenphone declined to elaborate on the matter.
“As a general principle, we do not comment on rumours and speculations. The system audit by a BTRC-appointed auditor is a long pending issue, and we expect that there would be dialogue with the operators before arriving at a conclusion,” the operator told The Daily Star.
Norwegian Telenor has a 55.8 percent share of Grameenphone. Grameen Telecom Corporation owns 34.2 percent of the stakes and the remaining 10 percent of the shares belong to retail and institutional investors. In the meantime, the regulator has asked Robi to pay Tk 867.24 crore to itself and the NBR as missed or under payments over a 19-year period, detected after a thorough audit.
About the auditing issue, Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar said all operators will have to comply with the local rules and regulations and comply with the audit findings for doing business in Bangladesh.
“They will not get any scope to avoid the audit findings and will not get any space to bypass the payables,” Jabbar said on Monday.